The Making of The King James Bible Review: When God Spoke English

THE MAKING OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE: Monday 21st February, BBC4, 9pm ALERT ME

The bible has always been a famously dry read (just check out the number of illustrated versions available if you need proof) and making a documentary on the authorship of the edition that has defined English Christianity for the last four centuries was always going to be an uphill struggle. Add a rather drab script and an utterly charmless presenter and the task is made almost impossible.

This programme will undoubtedly be well received by religious history zealots and ardent Christians, but many ‘swing-viewers’ who may have been enticed by this potentially epic offering (and I class myself as one of those) might have found this a rather wearisome watch. You can get away with being niché if you are willing to present your case in a colourful light, but unfortunately Adam Nicholson doesn’t quite manage it here. I’m sure that many more honed minds might have been able to follow this hour-long revision session, but I was left rather underwhelmed and ultimately the mediocre interest I did have faded amid the absence of any historical bombshells.

The reason for this brave documentary was the 400th anniversary of the publication of the Authorised King James Bible in 1611 – the third such translation since the reign of Henry VIII and is universally recognised at the one that after some initial teething issues, finally succeeded in uniting the Church of England under one tome. As you can imagine, such a description is almost painfully rudimentary and there were more ins and outs to the story than you’d find at an Eastern European brothel. There is undoubtedly some good material in this programme, but it is not something that should be entered into lightly..

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